|Firefighters clean up at the scene of the West Kelowna Lions Hall, which caught fire Sunday morning, gutting the front half of the building.|
Insurance adjusters are expected today or tomorrow to begin surveying the extent of damage caused by the Sunday morning fire.
Although the front portion of the historic building is considered a loss, other parts of the hall - including an addition built in the 1980s - were saved from the flames.
"It's fully insured, so we'll have a building again there is some way, shape, or form," Rick Hebner, a past-president of the Westbank Lions Club, said Monday.
"The question right now is whether we'll use the insurance money to replace what was lost, or bulldoze everything down and start from scratch," Hebner said. "That's a decision we'll have to make in the days ahead, based on what the adjusters tell us."
Some members of the Lions Club are already talking about a possible partnership in the rebuilding effort with the District of West Kelowna.
The municipality has been considering where to build its first City Hall, and the suggestion is a multi-use building, incorporating civic offices and community meeting space, might be considered for the Lions Club property.
"We've already had some emails from club members along those lines, and we'll set up a meeting as soon as possible," West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said.
"It's far too early to say what might happen, but we'll talk about what they see as some options moving forward," Findlater said. "Perhaps there's some kind of partnership possibility, but it's their building and their land, so it's their call."
For now, Findlater calls the loss of the hall "a big hole in the life of the community."
The original part of the building dates back to the early 1930s. Over the decades, it has been one of the most popular places in Westbank for wedding receptions, political meetings, fund-raising events, club meetings and funerals.
With a size of about 5,000 square feet, the building's main hall had a capacity for about 320 people. The building had an assessed value of $3.5 million.
Space is also being rented in the hall by the Boys and Girls Club for a youth program, the Red Cross for a medical equipment loan service, and the school district for an alternative education class.
"It's continually in use, and has been a real focal point for the community over the years. It was quite a shock to see that fire," said Gordon Ficke, a 62-year-old lifelong Westbanker who is president of both Westbank Museum and the Historic Westbank Association.
The fire was reported just after 8 a.m on Sunday. The cause is undetermined.
Lions Club members praise the quick action of West Kelowna Fire Rescue in preventing the blaze from spreading through the rest of the wood building or affecting nearby properties.
The hall did not have a sprinkler system.